We’re all holding our breath as we await word on outfielder Ryan Kalish. The super talented prospect injured his shoulder diving to make a catch in center in the top of the second on Thursday at McCoy. Ryan confirmed to me through a text, that it was his shoulder and he was awaiting results. We have come to find out that he will be examined on Friday in Boston to determine the severity of his injury. Not only is he a fabulous player, but a tremendous person. It would be easy to refer to him as a kid, because let’s face it, these days, almost everyone, especially International League players, are kids to me. Ryan “gets” it. He takes the game seriously. He plays hard and is the type of guy you hope your daughter brings home.
The other guy I am completely impressed with is Jose Iglesias. The 21 year old defector from Cuba has been solid through the first two weeks of this season. We know he is a defensive wizard, but offensively, he’s been consistent too. After Sundays’ massacre of Syracuse (14-0), Iglesias was hitting .275 with 4 rbi. He has reached base in 10 of the 11 games he’s played in. Iglesias is the #1 prospect in the Sox organization. He is a phenom, not only for his defensive prowess, but also for his incredible command of the English language. Jose defected in 2008. He seems very happy to be in Pawtucket. “It’s great. Pawtucket is a great city. I like the fans. I like this place a lot. I feel at home.” Nonetheless, it is difficult for a young man to be so far away from the ones he loves. “It’s hard to leave your family there. Your culture. Everything is different for me. I like my new home. It’s great, especially here in Pawtucket. This is my first full professional year and I feel great.” In his new surroundings, Iglesias is still able to “reach out and touch” family and friends. “I use the phone a couple of days a week.” He admits to some homesickness. “Of course. I miss everything. It’s tough for Cuban people when you leave the country. I still have most of the famly there. My Mom, brothers, cousin. Everybody, you know? I am happy though. I am here working on my career. That’s the best thing for me.”
Iglesias may miss his family and his homeland, but he quickly adds that the way of life in his native country is less than desirble. “Cuba’s a great country. A very humble country with a lot of good people, but the life is hard. You work very hard to make about ten dollars a month, or so. That’s not enough to eat. That’s not enough for anything. Everyone has a goal. That’s to play in the Big Leagues. You can’t do that if you stay in Cuba.”
Iglesias is blessed with tremendous defensive skills and instincts. He’s so good at such a young age, that Red Sox management has said that he is ready for the Bigs, defensively, already. Jose, doesn’t seem to take his enormous skills for granted. “I’ve worked hard. I think God gave me a gift, but I work at it every single day. Shortstop is a great position. You have a lot of responsibility in the game. Some times a great defensive play can help win the game.”
Iglesias possesses charisma. he also has matinee idol good looks. Sometimes, sititng around the hotel lobby, he looks as much like a young pop star as a future Major Leaguer. It’s pretty easy to imagine people wearing an “Iglesias” T-shirt or jersey when he sticks in the “Show”. He is getting used to everybody knowing his name. That’s life in Red Sox Nation. “It’s great. Fantastic. I feel very excited about it. The Red Sox are a great organization. We have a lot of talent in the minor leagues. We have very good people and very talented athletes. It’s like a family. I always say that. Boston is like a family. We always have tons of fans on the road. It’s fun.”
A lot of athletes who come to America don’t bother to learn the language. Iglesias says he hasn’t taken any classes. He just hangs around his teammates and soaks it all in. His willingness and his maturity will earn him high marks from the Sox brass, as well as fans and teammates. With the complete package in place, Jose Iglesias seems a natural for endorsements, too. He is 21 years old. It’s going to be great to watch his caree unfold. He’s off to the races.